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Israeli Forces Raid Jenin Amid Warnings of Terrorist Attack

Israeli military forces raided the West Bank city of Jenin Saturday in the latest of what have become almost daily incursions into Palestinian-ruled areas.

Backed by combat helicopters, Israeli armor and troops entered Jenin following what the army says were warnings that a terrorist attack was about to be launched from the city.

The Israeli military clamped a curfew on local residents, before withdrawing several hours later. No casualties and no arrests were reported during the raid.

Israeli forces have entered Jenin several times since heavy fighting broke out in the city and its adjacent refugee camp in April during a major military offensive across the West Bank.

Palestinian militants who set out from Jenin have killed scores of Israelis. Earlier this month a suicide bomber from Jenin killed 17 Israelis in an attack on a bus.

Meanwhile, the Israeli Defense Ministry is expected to begin work Sunday on a barrier fence designed to separate Israel from the West Bank. The fence is being built to keep Palestinian militants out of the Jewish state.

Palestinians have said such a barrier will increase tensions after more than 20-months of bloodshed.

Israeli news reports say the fence will run about 110-kilometers from a point northeast of Tel Aviv to south of the port city of Haifa, running roughly parallel to the Mediterranean Sea.

For most of the distance the fence will run along the currently unmarked frontier, known as the Green Line, that divides Israel and the West Bank. The fence is meant to separate the Palestinian-ruled towns of Jenin, Tulkarm and Qalqilya from nearby Israeli cities.

Palestinian Authority chief cartographer Khalil Tufakji says before Israel captured the West Bank during the 1967 Middle East War there was a fence along the entire area, which was then ruled by Jordan.

Mr. Tufakji says the new barrier will generally follow the old line, but at some points will veer into the West Bank, meaning the appropriation of at least 77-kilometers of occupied land. He says 11 Palestinian villages will end up on the Israeli side of the barrier.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon reportedly was reluctant to approve construction of the fence because many of his supporters, including Jewish settlers in the West Bank, see it as a first step in giving up parts of the Palestinian territories which they claim for security and religious reasons.

The fence will reportedly take about one year to build and will cost about $1 million per kilometer.